Exercise can be very beneficial for patients with joint pain. The problem is, joint pain can also make it difficult for patients to exercise because some activities may make pain worse. We recently discussed this topic on Facebook, so I wanted give some tips on exercising with joint pain.
The key is not to keep pushing through very painful activities, but to modify your exercise routine in favor of low-impact activities. High-impact activities like running and fast-paced aerobics can place too much stress on the joints; low-impact activities are much easier on the joints. Give one of these activities a try.
Yoga is great for improving flexibility and balance. It can reduce pain and stiffness in the joints, as well. As an added bonus, it can also help to reduce stress and promote better sleep. Some yoga poses may need to be modified to accommodate for patients with arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation recommends working with a qualified instructor who can help you modify the poses so that you are comfortable and to help you do the poses correctly so that you don’t hurt yourself.
Running and jogging may be too jarring on your joints, but walking at a brisk pace—whether on a treadmill, a track, or the sidewalk—can be a good form of exercise too. You should find that walking is much easier than running or jogging, unless your arthritis is so severe that even walking is difficult. Make sure you are using the correct shoes when you are walking to reduce stress on your joints. Try going to a store that specializes in athletic shoes. They can help you pick out a walking shoe that will absorb shock and help to correct biomechanical issues.
3. Water Aerobics
The buoyancy of water reduces impact and supports the body’s weight, reducing stress on your joints as you exercise. Heated pools may help even more because the heat can soothe joint pain. Even if you can’t swim, you can still take a water aerobics class. Flotation devices are often used in water aerobics, so you don’t need to know how to swim. If you like to walk, you can also try water walking. Water has 12 times the resistance of air and requires more effort than walking on land, so you have the opportunity to burn more calories and strengthen your muscles.
Cycling on a stationary bike is a great form of low-impact exercise. Indoor cycling can help to strengthen your hips and knees and reduce stiffness. It’s also a great cardiovascular workout. Start out slow, just 5-10 minutes at a time and gradually build up over time as your tolerance builds. Use a stationary bike with an adjustable seat, and add a cushioned bike seat if needed to make it more comfortable.
5. Elliptical Machine
Elliptical machines are almost impact-free. You can adjust the level of resistance and incline on most models so that you are comfortable while using the machine. Try out different levels of resistance and incline to see what works best for you. Some elliptical machines even have extensions that work the upper body. Make sure the machine has non-slip pedals to help prevent accidents.
If you experience severe pain while doing any exercise routine, stop the activity immediately and consult with your doctor. However, it is normal to experience some soreness after starting a new exercise routine. Don’t let that discourage you; most people find that if they stick with it, modifying the routine as needed, long-term pain relief follows.